A few sun and part sun plant suggestions:

Bee balm (monarda) pink, red

Coreopsis (threadleaf) yellow, pink, red

Hummingbird mint (agastache) orange, blue, pink, yellow

Partridge feather blue gray foliage

Penstemon red rocks or pinifolius pink red, yellow

A few shade and part shade plant suggestions

Brunnera blue

Fern (Japanese painted, lady in red, giant ostrich)

Hakone grass, bright yellow/green grass-like foliage

Wild ginger

Can wildlife and beautiful gardens coexist without a constant application of repellents and/or an 8-foot fence?

Repellents require constant maintenance. Scent-motivated sprays need to be reapplied after a rain, plus they are expensive. A critter control fence is a must if you expect to harvest any vegetables. So what is the answer?

I have spent many hours turning pages and taking notes from “Creating a Deer & Rabbit Proof Garden” (third edition) by Peter Derano. My spirit and my vision is for a somewhat critter-proof garden that is water-wise and fairly low maintenance, but so far it is still on paper with lots of additions and subtractions.

My aha moment came when I visited a beautiful garden on NW Summit Drive, which was part of the recent ­Oregon State University Extension High Desert Garden Tour. Finally the puzzle pieces have started fitting together.

The homeowner, in addition to dealing with a higher elevation, has deer, rabbits, chipmunks, gophers, golden-mantled ground squirrels and gray squirrels to contend with.

Over the past 16 years, two landscape designs have successfully evolved. They didn’t just develop through happenstance, but through honoring the topography of the site as well as sun, shade, outcroppings and the natural habitat of all the critters. I suppose you could call the end result a gardener’s version of the Great Divide: dividing water allocation and plant varieties. The plantings in the front and side of the house receive more irrigation while the areas that have been left more natural receive one-third less water.

The gardener uses a list of what critters don’t like as a criterion for her plant selections. The list includes plants that have leathery leaves or gray-green foliage; plants with sticky, furry or very fine foliage; plants that are scented and ornamental grasses.

The master list of 24 varieties of shrubs, perennials and annuals constitutes the sun to part-sun landscape in front. A list for a smaller shade to part-shade area, also in the front, consists of 12 plant varieties. The backside of the property includes a small xeric area. Pine needle pathways lead you into the native landscape, an idea I intend to incorporate in a portion of the landscape I want to change. And don’t turn your nose up at the native rabbitbrush. All trimmed up it is a handsome plant.

Part of the success of the critter control is the repetition of the plant varieties. Rather than an en masse planting of one variety, it’s spread around in smaller groupings throughout the landscape. This is also an excellent practice for an integrated pest management program. Think of it as not offering an extra large, overloaded dinner plate.

I have never considered an alternate use for a plant trellis, but now I know it can serve another purpose. It is used as a deer barrier in this landscape. Several trellises were placed next to each other to block a well-worn deer path. There are two thin wires strung on the back side of the trellises to further discourage the deer from walking through the area. Not knowing what it is they back off and change direction. There were several instances where the trellises were used in additional ways.

The tour through this garden also reinforced my appreciation for whimsical colorful garden art. How can you have a bad day when you have a colorful garden and whimsical garden art to look at?

If you are thinking of making alterations to go to battle with the critters, maybe it is time to stop thinking in terms of the confrontational us and them. Instead, make an inclusive plan of mine and yours.

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